Wolves school Peoria with OT thriller
School was out for the kids who attended Tuesday morning's Wolves game at the Allstate Arena.
Not to fear, parents, the home team put on a nice lesson in time, space and the power of 3 in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Peoria Rivermen.
The crowd of 9,202 enjoyed a hat trick by Wolves captain Darren Haydar. Local boy Bill Sweat of Elburn sent everybody home happy with his game-winner at 1:21 of OT. The speedy Sweatt picked up the puck at his own blue line, skated forward and snapped a shot past Peoria goaltender Mike McKenna from the left circle.
"I love being out there 4-on-4," Sweat said, referring to the overtime alignment. "There' more ice out there. It's funny because it kind of turns into a different game, like roller hockey. My brother and I used to play that back in the day, so it brings back fond memories, I guess."
The Wolves fell behind 1-0 early in the first period before Haydar scored his first 2 goals. Sweatt assisted on the first as Haydar and Anton Rodin worked a nice back-and-forth passing play on the power play at 7:48.
Late in the period, Haydar took a pass from Kevin Connauton and snapped one past McKenna from the top of the right circle.
Haydar created some time and space for himself late in the second period as he calmly skated and then snapped another shot from the top of the circle to beat McKenna for a 3-2 lead. It was Haydar's third career hat trick with the Wolves and his eighth in the American Hockey League.
"Obviously, you can tell he's a veteran guy," said Wolves coach Scott Arniel, whose team improved to 22-15-3-2. "He got upset the last game (a loss to Peoria). He gave up a couple goals. Their line has to give us offense. It hadn't been doing it in the last two (games). You ask for your leaders to lead. Him being the captain, he led by example tonight."
Haydar agreed with the boss.
"I think we had a couple of games where we were a little bit suspect," said Haydar, who is within 1 point of tying Jason Krog for third place on the Wolves' all-time points list. "We were trying to focus tonight and just make sure we weren't turning the puck over, and being on the plus side of things."
It looked like Peoria might spoil Haydar's big day after Phil McRae (son of former NHL enforcer and short-time Blackhawk Basil McRae) scored midway through the third, but Sweatt helped his lineman savor the day.
As for the 11 a.m. start, Haydar didn't seem to mind.
"I love mornings," he said. "I'm a happy person in the morning. I get to take the dog for a nice walk and then come to the rink. What else could you ask for? It's just about 2 o'clock and we're done for the day with a nice win."
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